Since January 2023, a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) has been in operation in Newcastle city centre. The charges for driving within that area apply to taxis, vans, large goods vehicles (LGVs) and busses. Drivers of cars and motorcycles for personal use remain unaffected.
The CAZ operates 24/7, all year round. Drivers of ‘non-compliant’ vehicles are recommended to pay the charge in advance of their journey; if they do not do so, they have until 11:59 on the sixth day after entering the zone to make payment. It’s important to note drivers will not be sent reminders to pay. It’s possible to pay up to six days in advance of the journey.
If a charge is not paid after six days, the driver driver may be issued a penalty charge notice (PCN).
The CAZ initiative was launched by the UK government in 2015 as a means of reducing pollution in major urban centres. There are many such zones across Britain, all implemented upon the same structure. Based on the government’s assessment of the area and its requirements, the zone is given a particular class:
- Class A: Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
- Class B: Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
- Class C: Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, vans, minibuses
- Class D: Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, vans, minibuses, cars, and the option for motorcycles
Standards for compliance are based on vehicle type, and are uniform across all CAZs.
- Motorcycles and mopeds (optional): Euro 3
- Vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles, cars: Euro 4 (petrol engine) and Euro 6 (diesel engine)
- Buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles: Euro V1
- Ultra-low emission vehicles: Automatically compliant
Standards are set by the government; however, the handling of fees, fines, exemptions and disputes is left to local councils.
The Newcastle CAZ is Class C, and covers the city centre, including Newcastle Central Station, Newcastle University, and Northumbria University campuses. It stretches from Redheugh Bridge to Tyne Bridge in the south, Dunn Street and Rye Hill to the west, and the A167 to the east. Northward, it reaches as far as Stanhope Street and Queen Victoria Road.
Newcastle CAZ Charges
Motorists entering the CAZ will incur fees of £12.50 per day. The zone operates midnight to midnight. That means, for example, that if you were enter the zone a few minutes before 00:00 and leave it a few minutes after, you will incur two charges. Payment can be made via the government website, an online form, or over the phone. Taxi companies can purchase week-long permits for £50 per vehicle.
Failure to pay results in a fine of £120, or £60 if you pay it within two weeks.
Upgrading to Comply with the Newcastle CAZ Standards
Instead of paying to enter the CAZ, some are opting to upgrade their vehicle to ensure it is compliant with the strict criteria. Grants are available to encourage motorists to do so. Funding is capped according to the type of vehicle to be upgraded. For example:
- Taxis: Up to £3,500
- Wheelchair-accessible taxis: Up to £4,000
- Light goods vehicles: Up to £4,500
- Heavy goods vehicles: Up to £16,000
- Buses and coaches: Up to £16,000
There are two kinds of exemption: National Exemptions, decided by the UK government; and Local Exemptions, decided by county councils. National exemptions are uniform, and apply to all CAZs; local exemptions are tailored by the authority responsible for that area.
National exemptions include:
- Disabled tax class or disabled passenger tax class
- Certain types of agricultural vehicles
- Historic vehicles
- Military vehicles
- Ultra low emission vehicles
- Vehicles retrofitted with technology accredited by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)
Local exemptions may apply permanently, or only for a set period of time. You can find the list of exemptions that apply to Newcastle and Gateshead Clean Air Zone here.
You can also apply for an exemption, if you believe the restrictions should not apply to your vehicle. Applications can be made online or in writing; paper application forms can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 0191 278 2711.
You may use the ULEZ checker to remain aware of the restrictions and the charges that may apply to your vehicle, in Newcastle and in any CAZ in Britain.